As you are learning and trying to cope with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), its many symptoms, complications, and limitations, it may seem as if it is swallowing up your dreams and leaving you with little control of your life.
But you do have some control. One of the most vital parts of your living life, despite your illness, is finding purpose even when it seems unattainable.
After all, we all need purpose to still do what matters, what makes us feel good, and what gives us meaning. We all need a reason to get out of bed every morning or else illness will destroy us and lead to anxiety, depression, and other problems with coping.
In nine years of living with RA, my life has drastically changed and it hasn’t been the same since.
After all, RA brings about new treatments with a host of side effects, doctor visits, sick days, and struggling to manage your career, changes in your relationships, and frustration from dealing with all these things.
It is a lot for anyone to handle, including me. And it has, over the years, taken its toll on my emotional and mental health.
People with chronic illnesses, like RA, are at a higher risk for depression. In fact, up to 42 percent of people with RA live with major depressive disorder according to one report in the International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.
Dreams Are Still Possible
There is no magic formula or secret to success — with or without chronic illness. Just take a look at all the remarkable accomplishments of people just like you who are living their dreams, despite illnesses, such as RA, or diabetes, or fibromyalgia, and/or living with chronic pain.
Some dreamers with chronic illness are even famous names. Kathleen Turner (rheumatoid arthritis), Selena Gomez (lupus), George Clooney (chronic pain), Jim Carey (depression), Jack Osborne (multiple sclerosis), Phil Mickelson (psoriatic arthritis) and Venus Williams (Sjögren’s syndrome) — just to name a few.
My experience has been that even though dreams need to be put on hold or perhaps modified, they can still be reality through acceptance of your situation, some tweaks, hard work and perseverance.